by R. Nyman
A few years ago, the VP of Global Strategies for BEYOND turned to me and stated, “We are observing a challenge to see women, as well as men, come to initial trainings in CPM (Church Planting Movements) globally. If we are serious about the fulfillment of the Great Commission, then we need to figure out a way to make sure both men and women are equipped/coached in making reproducing disciples for the launch of CPMs among all UPGs (Unreached People Groups).”
My husband and I also had observed many cases among other organizations where the commitment to equip/coach women, as well as men, for the making of reproducing disciple-makers in a CPM process was not emphasized.
When it comes to whether the global body of Christ truly yearns to be the “final lap”¹ generation of the fulfillment of the Great Commission, for Jesus’ fame and renown, there is what I like to call the No Child of God left behind policy of Jesus. All disciples of Jesus in for all peoples. Not some for all peoples, not all for some peoples, but ALL disciples for ALL peoples. (See Hab. 2:14; Rev. 5:9–14; Matt. 28:16–20; Rev. 7:9–12; Matt. 24:14; 2 Peter 3:9).
No Caveats in the Kingdom of God
In a recent conversation with an ex-pat CPM Outside Catalyst² who visited a movement in the Middle East, she relayed the following. When she listened to their all-male leadership share amazing stories, she asked them what they do to help equip and coach their women in the multiple house churches to reproduce as disciple-makers. The movement leader was puzzled and answered, “We have no plan. The women have to take care of the men and the children. How could they be involved?”
Another movement leader, when asked what their plan was for the equipping of both men and women to implement making reproducing disciples, looked a bit puzzled and then responded, “The women in our movements must take care of the children, as well as work in order to bring in support of the male CPM catalysts.”
Another movement leader was facilitating a CPM training for the week. He assumed that the women who were gathered in the room next to him were there in order to pray for his training. In reality, the women were meeting to be trained in CPM. This common assumption that women’s sole role in movements is to support the men as they lead movements overlooks the rich resource women are and can be in seeing the Great Commission fulfilled.
I assert that we can raise the bar to see both men and women become more effective as a global mission effort to establish a movement mindset norm of ALL in for ALL peoples.
At least 50% of most UPGs are female, and in many cultures, it is not appropriate for men to interact with women. Often, especially among Muslim UPGs, women see themselves as the gatekeepers³ for their households. In other words, why wouldn’t we trust the Holy Spirit to leverage women as CPM catalysts in these UPGs? Who, if not women laborers, will seek out Women of Peace to open their oikos to the Gospel? And as new CPMs emerge, who will help to equip the multiple generations of local women leaders?
The intent of this article is to encourage those who have yet to make sure both men and women are equipped as disciples who understand how to make reproducing disciple-makers. But it’s important to pause and reflect on the various seasons of life in which women may find themselves that may impact how they engage in disciple-making.
Whether they are single, married without children, married with children, single again, young or old, they all have been called by Jesus’ command to make disciples who make disciples of the ethne. This great work was given to all people (male and female) in every generation. While the call is the same, the implementation may vary significantly depending on their season of life. However, what is true in any season is that women are hugely gifted in relational acumen. That gift provides avenues into communities that might otherwise have been inaccessible.
A Bit of History
The Jan/Feb 2016 issue of Mission Frontiers⁴ was a huge piece in laying a foundation toward the normalization of women, as well as men, as Jesus’ disciples who make reproducing disciples in CPM efforts. When I had the opportunity to put that issue of Mission Frontiers together, it was mostly outside catalysts who were sharing CPM implementation stories and experiences.
Now, six years past that groundbreaking MF issue, we are seeing the multiplication of near-neighbor and focus UPG women who are sharing their stories, giving their insights as they implement to see the launch of CPMs. Finally, we are seeing ALL for ALL, not outsiders only for ALL peoples, not men only for ALL peoples. Not near-neighbor/indigenous UPG laborers only for ALL peoples, but ALL ethne to ALL ethne. Both men and women for the baseline making of reproducing disciples who love, hear, and obey Jesus.
What must be done to see women flourish as CPM practitioners
Potential actionable steps for more intentional equipping/coaching of women for CPM-focused efforts could include the following:
- Listen to and learn from the movement leaders and their stories. Discuss with listening ears how they train/coach women in their movements. The purpose is to be diagnostic in gaps in the CPMs to this end.
- Discern gaps in present movements in order to serve their gaps of seeing ALL (male and female) of their potential laborers equipped and coached more intentionally.
- Create avenues for women within CPMs to tell the story of how they partner with men in training/coaching others to reproduce disciple-makers.
- A weekly CPM coaching circle of men and women can be a most effective way to equip others. Use 7 DMM High-Value Activities⁵ to be woven into the coaching times. These CPM coaching times are suggested to be an ongoing coaching piece. The coaching circle can be most effective with four to six CPM implementers when held for 90 minutes divided into 1/3 member health, 1/3 CPM vision strengthening, 1/3 CPM actionable steps through listening prayer in mutual accountability.
All of us (men and women) are to delight in and declare God’s glory, developing intimacy with God. Out of the overflow of this intimacy, we are to “be” and “do” in Christ and seek to reproduce Jesus in others. For all who follow Jesus, making reproducing disciples is a privilege as well as a command.
I urge the Body of Christ to consider how to best support, inspire, and equip women to thrive and bear multiplying fruit to the glory of God. As co-laborers with God in His mission to reconcile the world to Himself, women have a place and a role to play, and it is right beside their brothers in the faith who are committed to the same call.
This article was first published in Mission Frontiers: Women in Mission, Mar/April 2023 , pages 41-43. It was used here with permission.
About the Author: R. Nyman and her husband have served with BEYOND (http://www.beyond.org) in SEAsia among Muslim UPGs since 1991 and train/coach and personally implement Disciple Making Movements. R. serves as Austronesian Affinity Bloc Strategy Leader for BEYOND.